Court hears appeal on Globalive's Canadian roots

Wed May 18, 2011 4:12pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - The fate of Wind Mobile, one of three wireless upstarts challenging Canada's dominant carriers, rests with an appeal court that must decide if the government or regulators better judged its homegrown bone fide.

Wind's owner Globalive spent C$442 million for spectrum and turned on its network in December 2009, after the government overturned a regulator ruling that blocked the Egyptian-backed company from offering wireless service.

It had signed up more than a quarter of a million customers to its low-cost, no-contract and unlimited calling plans when a federal court said in February 2011 that the government ruling was wrong.

Losing the appeal case, which opened on Wednesday, would not threaten Wind and Globalive's immediate future in a newly competitive Canadian wireless market. But a victory could ease investor concerns and lead to an influx of funding ahead of a fresh sale of wireless airwaves, due late next year.

One of its fellow upstarts, Mobilicity, raised C$215 million in debt financing in April.

Globalive's chairman, Anthony Lacavera, said in mid-2010 that Wind had ample cash for two to three more years and intended to be the fourth national provider, competing with established giants Rogers Communications, BCE Inc's Bell and Telus.

The Canadian wireless industry, long dominated by these three, features some of the highest fees in the world.

MOOT POINT   Continued...

<p>WIND Mobile cell phones are displayed at a retail store in Toronto in this December 16, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>